NASA’s new moon mission will carry science to numerous solar system destinations, a senior agency official said Wednesday (Nov. 16).
Hours after the launch of Artemis 1 started off the bigger Artemis program work to return humans to the moon, a NASA official said that the uncrewed mission, which took off at 1:47 a.m. EST (0647 GMT), is a keystone in building future missions with humans on board.
“Artemis 1 is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions to explore the moon in preparation for missions to Mars,” Kate Calvin, NASA’s chief scientist and senior climate advisor, told Space.com in a video interview.
Contrasted with the crewed Apollo program moon missions of the 1960s and 1970s, the Artemis program is intended to do more science and remain for longer than even the three days that more extended missions like Apollo 17 managed at the end of the program, Calvin explained.
“The science, we’re using both humans and robots to learn more about the moon, in preparation for … other missions in the future,” she said, referring both to Artemis missions and to crewed efforts with other celestial destinations.
While Artemis 1 is flying to lunar realms, Calvin said the mission will nonetheless benefit Earth science. Scientific payloads and mannequins on board the Orion spacecraft will quantify and assessing radiation in cislunar space to learn “impacts on crew and electronics,” while different experiments and cubesats will assemble pictures and biological measurements of living animals like algae, seeds, fungi and yeast.
Practice living off-Earth for long periods will likewise help maintainability on our planet, Calvin said.
Following Artemis 1 is the Artemis 2 crewed mission that will loop around the moon no earlier than 2024, and the Artemis 3 landing mission focusing on 2025 or 2026, assuming the debut effort goes according to plan.
“Each mission within Artemis is increasing the complexity,” Calvin said. “We’re really excited about that, as we’re moving out into back to the moon and on to Mars.”